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Dharamsala Demonstrations

INDIA | Tuesday, 15 December 2009 | Views [763]

Protestors prepare to trample on a Chinese flag, in support of Tibetan rights, Mcleod ganj, March 2008.

Protestors prepare to trample on a Chinese flag, in support of Tibetan rights, Mcleod ganj, March 2008.

It was March 2008 when my ImTrav tour group reached McLeod Ganj, the fabled home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. The Chinese had just launched a crackdown on Tibetan demontrators in Llasa, and the struggle for Tibetan rights had already been making world news reports for several days. Unfortunately His Holiness the Dalai Lama was not in residence, having decamped to London to give interviews on BBC and other media outlets.

Now, McLeod Ganj is a small place, perched on a steep hillside overlooking Dharamsala. There is only one road in and out, and not a lot of streets. It seemed that the town was bursting with protestors, demonstations were everywhere, streets choked with Buddhist monks and other Tibetan supporters, carrying Tibetan flags and bullhorns. Hunger strikes were in progress, and every Tibetan business and restaurant was closed up; at night we had to eat Italian or Indian food, not Tibetan.

Some westerners joined in the protests, and posed for the various TV camera crews throughout the town. We were approached by an American woman with leaflets detailing the problems Tibetans faced in China. I commented that every single person in town already knew about the crisis and about injustices perpetrated by the Chinese. If she really wanted to make a difference, she could return to the US and inform citizens there.

On the second day, we took the trail 15 km up to Triund, which was wonderful. Springtime was climbing up into the Himalayas, and everywhere were blooming rhododendron trees.

One the third morning, I visited the main Tibetan monastary, which was so much calmer than the town streets. The monks gave all the visitors a tangerine at lunchtime, for good luck. I myself went into the town, and found a rooftop restaurant 4 stories above the chaotic street. It was there that I took the photos you can see under the "free tibet" tag, where the demonstators trample a Chinese flag.

Tags: dharamsala, free tibet, india, mcleod ganj


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